Content marketing is becoming increasingly important. It leads to increased site traffic through both search engines and referrals, which means more potential buyers, users or clients as you’re becoming a valuable resource of information they trust. You’ll also set yourself apart as an industry expert, which leads to other intangibles such as speaking engagements, notoriety and, overall, staying abreast of the landscape.
But here’s the catch: Content marketing isn’t easy. It takes some time and a lot of effort. You shouldn’t expect instant results; it could be months or years before the content starts to produce regular results. In fact, most businesses give up before it can take effect. You must regularly produce educational materials. Just have faith in the system. Below is what you need to know.
Key points to consider
There are three criteria you need to consider when investing in content marketing.
1. Content strategy: You need evergreen content, which can be reused and doesn’t expire. Your strategy should be to focus on your key services or products and become the resource on those topics.
2. Publishing plan: You need a set plan for a year; at least one yearly research project, four quarterly pieces to bolster your central topic, monthly articles and weekly posts as needed.
3. Technology: You need an information hub, not just a blog. A blog is simply a running list of ideas, whereas an information hub guides users to relevant articles.
What you need to identify
As we mentioned, an effective content strategy isn’t easy. If you’re truly committed you’ll take the time to do your homework and establish:
1. Your audience: Who do you want to target? Who is your current audience? What changes need to be made to get on track?
2. Popular issues and topics: What do you want to write about? What is popular right now? Do a Google search.
3. How to best share information: How does your audience want to receive the information (blog, forum, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, email, newsletters, direct contact, etc.)?
Tactics for content
Every visitor that comes to your website is in a different part of the sales process. We’ve broken down the sales funnel into manageable chunks:
1. Early stage of buying: In the beginning stages, educational materials are important. They should provide high-level (instead of detailed) information.
–Practice area content
2. Decision stage: In this stage, your company is probably on the short list of potential companies to use, so you need to have very specific information to set your products or services apart.
3. Conversion stage: This is when you need to bolster your creditability and make your product or service easy to purchase.
–Sales process that is trustworthy, transparent and easy
4. Retention stage: Often overlooked is the fact that you need to retain clients and provide educational materials on an ongoing basis to existing clients. It’s often easier to keep a current client happy than to seek out a new client.
–Support and help documents
–Same-hour response time
–Offers and improvements
Once you have the data to begin your adventure into content marketing, you should set up a winning team. This should include:
1. Content champion (aka your publisher): This person will set the tone, create topics and schedule for the team. They need to beg, borrow and plead with the team to produce content. This person can also edit all of the copy, but you may need an editor for this task.
2. Writers: The writers are your core team. You need everyone involved. Get everyone excited and show the potential benefits that follow (e.g. the more clients, the better success for the firm, the higher the salary, etc.). Try to “gamify” the process and offer incentives.
3. Technology: You need a good content management system (CMS) that allows you to easily post content. You also need to be on social media channels to syndicate all your content.
How to create content
Your team should create the content. We personally have a weekly team meeting called our “Cool” meeting, which is called that because everything we send in to review is, well, cool. The key is that everyone should participate. Your team is constantly reading articles, writing and sending a quick email to a set email account that collects all ideas. Everyone can discuss, delegate and plan.
Other businesses have stored local files where they add ideas or use online notes like Google Docs. The method doesn’t matter — just make sure you have one central location to collect ideas and have regular meetings to evaluate their potential.
You can also try to gather content by:
–Reviewing competing websites to see what’s working for them (and ranking high)
–Brainstorming sessions, where, once you have a killer idea, everyone develops topics for articles on the subject
–Checking out Google Trends, which allows you to see what is popular and evaluate ideas
–Refraining from hitting enter. Google autosuggest allows you to see topic ideas. Test it out by simply typing in a few words to the Goggle search bar. Google will suggest searches that are really great topics to write on (literally, finishing your sentences).
Develop a plan of action today (not tomorrow or next week — right now). First, find an internal champion to publish your content. Go ask them right now. Then, get the team motivated to want to write and ensure you have the technology to easily post to your website. Once your team is in place, define your audience and brainstorm as a team to develop valuable, shareable information and article ideas.